Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week, GRECO releases its annual anti-corruption trends report. Read the full story and more news below:
GRECO Releases Annual Anti-Corruption Trends Report:
The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, GRECO, published its annual anti-corruption trends report on April 15th. The report urges governments in Europe to take note of and manage the emerging corruption risks related to the extraordinary measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, which evaluates the implementation of anti-corruption recommendations on central governments around Europe, finds that these risks might be more prevalent in the public procurement area. GRECO concluded that by the end of 2020, only 40% of EU member states had successfully implemented all of their recommendations to prevent corruption in the parliament and in the judicial system.
China's Tech Giants Make Public Commitments to Antimonopoly Laws:
On April 14th, China's antitrust watchdog, the State Administration for Market Regulation, published public statements coming from China’s 12 largest tech companies pledging to comply with China’s anti-monopoly law. The statements, issued by companies such as ByteDance and Baidu, which highlighted similar commitments and potential areas of improvement, came after Alibaba founder Mr. Jack Ma publicly criticized the Chinese state for curtailing innovation last October. Last week, China's antitrust authority fined Alibaba USD 2.3BN for its abusive market position, and Ant Group, one of its affiliates, stated it would abandon some of its most profitable business branches and submit itself to oversight by China's central bank.
Investors Push Google to Review Whistleblowing System
Trillium Asset Management LLC, an investment group with a stake in Google's parent company Alphabet Inc., asked Alphabet to review its internal whistleblowing program. Submitted in December, Trillium presented a shareholder proposal to the company requesting it to get a third-party review of its whistleblowing policies for the second year in a row. The investor is citing red flags around internal culture, human rights, and ethics. Trillium's proposal could be voted on in Alphabet's next shareholder meeting. According to ValueEdge, another institutional investor, the proposal sends an important message to Google regarding corporate governance even if it is not voted through.
U.S. SEC awards USD 2.5M to Whistleblower:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced an award of USD 2.5M to a whistleblower that provided ongoing assistance in a case that led to successful enforcement action. The whistleblower provided essential information on charges related to a breach of fiduciary duties to investors.
New Zealand Central Bank Launches New Compliance Enforcement Division:
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) announced a new enforcement division centered around anti-money laundering and compliance in the banking and insurance sectors. The new department will support the Central Bank's supervision team to achieve compliance goals, and it will develop the bank's enforcement framework for severe breaches of regulatory requirements.
Former Portuguese PM Ordered to Stand Money-Laundering Trial:
Former PM of Portugal José Sócrates was ordered by a Portuguese judge to stand trial on money laundering and document fraud charges after also being accused of bribery. While the bribery charges were acquitted based on insufficient evidence, the former PM is still accused of faking documents related to an apartment in Paris and laundering EUR 1.7M. The former PM spent a year under house arrest from 2015 after being arrested in Portugal's most significant corruption investigation Operation Marquis.
Ecuador Arrests Comptroller General on PetroEcuador Corruption Probe:
On April 13th, Ecuadorian authorities detained Ecuador's former energy minister and comptroller as part of a corruption probe that began in 2019 into state-owned oil company Petroecuador. Last week, an employee at Gunvor Group pleaded guilty to corruption charges related to Petroecuador in the U.S. Authorities arrested eight people in total this week, including a former secretary of former president Lenin Moreno, in an operation of 25 raids in Quito and Guayaquil.